April 19, 2011

Friends, Colleagues and Choral Works

It is always great to come home, and it seems that as I get older I am truly enjoying the comfort and security of my dwelling place. Of course this is not to say that time "on the road" is not enjoyable: both traveling for work and spending time in one's "resting place" can be equally fulfilling. While I do have a few things coming up in the next few weeks my intention, for the purpose of preparing well both mentally and violinistically, is to stay as close to home (if not to sequester myself) as possible. "The violinist, in order to be a virtuoso, must also be a recluse".

Last week was a truly special week in many ways both for Lucas Richman, music director of the Knoxville Symphony, and James Fellenbaum, a dear friend who is both the resident conductor of the Knoxville Symphony and director of orchestras at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Over the course of four days both of them conducted works for the first time: Maestro Richman led the Knoxville Symphony and the Knoxville Choral Society in two performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - his first time conducting the work in concert - and James (I refer to him with his first name because I have known him for eleven years) led the University of Tennessee Symphony Orchestra and combined choirs from the school's vocal department in one of the most exciting performances of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana that I have ever had the pleasure of playing - and this was also James' first concert performance of that work.

In short: soloists were outstanding in both works, both orchestras rose beautifully to the challenge, and audience reactions were enthusiastic on all three days.

Personally: while standing onstage (as orchestras do) during the bows, I found myself incredibly proud of both men as well as thinking about moments in life during which we all seem to be accomplishing some task that was a part of the cosmic plan. Curiosity led me to another old friend, a ridiculously dog-eared copy of Gary Zukav's book The Seat of The Soul.

While many have praised Mr. Zukav for his poetic and thoughtful writing, others have been somewhat skeptical of his metaphysical view of life and this thing called karma. Regardless, when I think of the last weekend and the congratulatory applause given to conductors, orchestras and soloists, I find myself in agreement with this passage:

"Before it incarnates, each soul agrees to perform certain tasks upon the Earth. It enters into a sacred agreement with the Universe to accomplish specific goals. That is why when a soul succeeds in accomplishing its goal, in fulfilling what it has agreed to do, there is a richness and a specialness to the lifetime of that personality that is recognized and honored by its fellow souls, both physical and nonphysical."

So....congratulations to everyone involved in those spectacular nights of musicmaking, and a special congratulations to Maestros Richman and Fellenbaum for fulfilling their "duty on the planet".

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